By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Ousted Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita has died, his former justice minister and an ex-advisor announced on Sunday. He was 76.
The cause of death was not yet clear.
“President IBK (Ibrahim Boubacar Keita) died this morning at 9am (GMT and local) at his home in Bamako,” a family member also confirmed.
Keita, known as IBK, ran the West African country from September 2013 to August 2020, a turbulent period that saw a violent Islamist insurgency take over large areas of the centre and north, helping drain his popularity.
He was forced out by a military coup after months of anti-government protests.
A former advisor said he died at home in the capital Bamako.
Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was a Malian politician who served as the president of Mali from September 2013 to August 2020, when he was forced to resign in the 2020 Malian coup d’état. He served as Mali’s prime minister from February 1994 to February 2000 and as president of the National Assembly of Mali from September 2002 to September 2007.
Keïta founded the centre-left political party Rally for Mali (RPM) in 2001. After a number of unsuccessful campaigns, he was elected president in the 2013 presidential election and reelected in 2018. He was deposed by mutinous elements of the Malian Armed Forces on 18 August 2020 and officially resigned the following day.
Keïta was born in Koutiala, in what was then French Sudan. He studied at the Lycée Janson-de-Sailly in Paris and Lycée Askia-Mohamed in Bamako, continuing his education at the University of Dakar, the University of Paris I and the Institut d’Histoire des Relations Internationales Contemporaines (IHRIC; Institute of the Modern History of International Relations). He has a Master’s degree in History.
After his studies, he was a researcher at the CNRS and taught courses on Third World politics at the University of Paris I. Returning to Mali in 1986, he became a technical consultant for the European Development Fund, putting together the first small-scale development program for the European Union’s aid activities in Mali. He went on to become Mali director for the French chapter of Terre des hommes, an international NGO aiding children in the developing world.
Upon the founding of the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA-PASJ), Keïta became its Secretary for African and International Relations at its constitutive congress, held on 25–26 May 1991. He was the deputy director of ADEMA candidate Alpha Oumar Konaré’s successful presidential campaign in 1992. The new president named Keïta as his senior diplomatic adviser and spokesman in June 1992, and then in November 1992 Konaré appointed Keïta as Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, Burkina Faso and Niger.
In November 1993, Keïta was appointed to the Malian government as Minister of External Affairs, Malians Abroad, and African Integration. On 4 February 1994, President Konaré named him prime minister, a position he held until February 2000. At ADEMA’s first ordinary congress, held in September 1994, Keïta was elected as the president of ADEMA.
Following presidential and parliamentary elections held in 1997, he resigned from his post as prime minister on 13 September 1997 and was promptly reappointed by Konaré, with a new government-appointed on 16 September. Keïta was re-elected as ADEMA president in October 1999, and in November 1999, he was named vice-president of the Socialist International.
Disagreements within ADEMA forced him to resign as prime minister on 14 February 2000, and then from the leadership of the party in October 2000. He then founded his own party, the Rally for Mali (RPM), which he has led since its creation was announced on 30 June 2001. He stood as a candidate in the 2002 presidential election, receiving the strong backing of many Muslim leaders and associations. Despite this support, some people doubted that Keïta’s policies were particularly compatible with Islam, pointing to the creation of casinos and lotteries while he was Prime Minister.
In the first round of the election, held on 28 April, he received about 21% of the vote and took third place, behind Amadou Toumani Touré and Soumaïla Cissé. He denounced the election as fraudulent, alleging that he was deliberately and falsely excluded from the second round, and along with other candidates sought for the results to be invalidated.
On 9 May the Constitutional Court ruled that the second round should proceed with Touré and Cissé as the top two candidates, despite acknowledging significant irregularities and disqualifying a quarter of the votes because of the irregularities.
According to the Constitutional Court, Keïta won 21.03% of the vote, only about 4,000 votes less than Cissé. On the same day, Keïta announced the support of his Espoir 2002 alliance for Touré in the second round; regarding the Court’s ruling, he described himself as “a law-abiding person” and said that the Court had followed the law. The second round was won by Touré.
In the July 2002 parliamentary election, Keïta was elected to a seat in the National Assembly from Commune IV in Bamako District in the first round. He was then elected as President of the National Assembly on 16 September 2002, receiving broad support, including the backing of ADEMA. He received 115 votes from the 138 participating deputies; the only other candidate, Noumoutié Sogoba of African Solidarity for Democracy and Independence (SADI), received eight votes, while 15 deputies abstained.
Keïta was also elected as President of the Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Union on 24 October 2002 at its Khartoum Conference.
He ran for president again, as the candidate of the Rally for Mali, in the April 2007 election, having been designated as the party’s candidate on 28 January 2007. Touré won the election by a landslide, while Keita took second place and 19.15% of the vote. As part of the Front for Democracy and the Republic (FDR), a coalition that included Keita as well as three other presidential candidates, Keita disputed the results and sought for the election to be annulled, alleging fraud. On 19 May, he said that the FDR would abide by the decision of the Constitutional Court to confirm Touré’s victory.
In the July 2007 parliamentary election, Keïta ran for re-election to the National Assembly from Commune IV in Bamako, where 17 lists competed for the two available seats, on an RPM list together with Abdramane Sylla. Keïta’s list received 31.52% of the vote in the first round, held on 1 July, slightly ahead of the list of independent candidate Moussa Mara, which received 30.70%.
In the second round on 22 July, Keïta’s list narrowly prevailed, winning 51.59% of the vote according to provisional results. He was not a candidate for re-election as President of the National Assembly at the opening of the new National Assembly on 3 September; the position was won by ADEMA President Dioncounda Traoré.
Keïta was a member of the Pan-African Parliament from Mali. As of 2007–2008, he was a member of the Commission of Foreign Affairs, Malians Living Abroad, and African Integration in the National Assembly. In addition to serving in the National Assembly, Keïta was a member of the Parliament of the Economic Community of West African States.
Keïta again ran for president in the July–August 2013 presidential election and was considered a front-runner. He won the election in the second round of voting, defeating Soumaïla Cissé, and was sworn in as president on 4 September 2013. Keïta had vowed to prioritize ability rather than political considerations when appointing ministers, and on 5 September 2013, he appointed a technocrat, banking official Oumar Tatam Ly, as prime minister. After Oumar Tatam Ly’s resignation, Keïta appointed Moussa Mara (5 April 2014 to 9 January 2015) and Modibo Keita (9 January 2015 to 7 April 2017). Upon Keita’s resignation, Soumeylou Boubéye Maïga was appointed prime minister (31 December 2017 – 18 April 2019) but resigned on 18 April 2019 amid public protests following the Ogossagou massacre. On 22 April 2019, President Keita named Boubou Cissé as prime minister.
An opposition movement coalesced against Keïta’s presidency and its acquiescence to the presence of French troops in the country. This movement gained international visibility through mass demonstrations organized by the June 5 Movement – Rally of Patriotic Forces (M5-RFP), continuing throughout 2020 despite the coronavirus pandemic and police repression. On 18 August 2020, Keïta and Cissé were arrested by mutinying soldiers in a coup d’état. The next day, Keïta dissolved parliament and announced his resignation, saying he wanted “no blood to be spilt” to keep him in power. He was released from custody on 27 August according to a junta spokesman.